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SIFI Innovation Challenges: From Patient Education to DTx in Ophtalmology

With a long business history spanning more than 85 years, SIFI is an international group of companies focused on the development, manufacturing and commercialization of therapeutic solutions for patients with ophthalmic disorders.

SIFI’s products include innovative pharmaceuticals, medical devices including intraocular lenses, and food supplements. SIFI pipeline is focused on therapeutic areas presenting opportunities to deliver medical solutions addressing unmet needs in eye care.

SIFI exports towards more than 20 countries with a mixed business model including direct presence, business partners and JVs in the different territories. SIFI’s HQ, Manufacturing and R&D facilities are based in Catania, Italy.

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Innovation at SIFI

SIFI has embarked on a comprehensive digital transformation project with a Vision to create new outstanding experiences in the relationships with their customers, to be perceived as the most engaging organization in ophthalmology, strengthening business partnerships and increasing the company’s competitive advantage.

Considering the impact of Covid-19, in 2020 SIFI digitally enabled their commercial organization, through the global deployment of the platform. YOURSIFI represents a new Customer Engagement Portal that elevates the existing communication between SIFI people and ophthalmologists. In 2021 the company started new projects to enhance their customer experiences, leveraging on powerful digital tools.

SIFI is the owner of a patented method for estimating the risk factor (HR) for the onset of macular degeneration in a subject, which method comprises the evaluation of a first series of genetic parameters and the evaluation of a second series of environmental, individual and/or clinical parameters.

SIFI’s Current Interests & Context

SIFI is interested to identify and cooperate on the development of disruptive therapeutic solutions in the fields of dry eye and glaucoma through digital medicine solutions and/or therapeutics. SIFI is also concerned with the development of Orphan Drugs for the Therapy of Rare Diseases. Concerning the latter, SIFI is currently in the final stages of development of Polihexanide, an Orphan Drug for the therapy of Acanthamoeba Keratitis. Moreover, SIFI has recently obtained from FDA a second Orphan Drug Designation for Polihexanide regarding the therapy of Fungal keratitis.

Open Call for Startups

SIFI identifies several challenges related to therapeutic areas of interest, which the company is interested to tackle together with innovative startups:

  • Patient education & funneling to treatment services with branded companion apps & data collection, with special reference to Orphan Drug therapy
  • Solutions on the way to Digital Therapeutics (vision acuity, quality of vision, vision training approach, Lifestyle & Behaviour/diet, …) and Digital Medicine
  • Big data & imagery processing for better handling chronic pathologies in ophthalmology
  • Artificial intelligence systems for degenerative retinal pathologies and field of view interpretation
  • Development and application of accurate computational models allowing patient stratification within silico data frameworks to be finally deployed for i) pathology landmarks characterization, and ii) definition of patient-centered therapeutic approaches. Target pathologies: Dry Eye, Glaucoma, Degenerative Retinal Pathologies, and Acanthamoeba Keratitis.

The solutions may be focused on any of the patient journey points (prevention, detection, treatment of pathologies).

Selection Criteria

Developed software with or without MDR certification, initial market traction is preferred.

What’s in there for selected startups?

During the course of the acceleration program, SIFI plans running an experimental PoC also involving SIFI’s network of KOLs and Research Institution, develop a functional prototype and launch of an MVP. Once the acceleration program is completed, SIFI has a potential interest to enter a commercial agreement to further scale and commercialize the solution.




The Vita Accelerator is a novel startup acceleration program launched by CDP together with Healthware and Accelerace that aims to support a new generation of digital health startups.